Where's Sam the Man

48 countries, 12 months, one man, half a brain

Name: Samuel Hathaway
Location: Roaming..., Germany

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Day One

Apparently Copenhagen is not famous for its internet cafes, so this is the first time I've had to post anything. Which is just as well, because my brain was already smoking from jet lag, too little tea, and too much Danish language.

The flight was uneventful, but uncomfortable. My large traveling companions needed more room than their seats allowed, so they casually stole my own. The man on my right talked a lot and smelled like beer. The man on my left had a full body rash, which he would constantly scratch and then brush the refuse into the air. I don't believe I breathed for the six hour flight.

I was picked up in Copenhagen by a charming girl who knew neither me nor my family, but her mother pulled out my dad's wisdom teeth and that was as much of a connection as we needed to ask for help. She lent me her family's apartment in the center of Copenhagen (the parents were on vacation), and then took me to dinner with her schoolmates. They were all intelligent, cultured, well-traveled, well-informed, and perfectly charming -- I haven't felt so young in years.

I had all of the next day to myself. I visited the obligatory old church (Our Savior's Church -- famous for its spiraling tower -- at 90 meters, it's the tallest edifice in the city), and then went on to Christiana. Apparently every single Danish king has been named either Frederik or Christian (except for some rebel name H-----, but I think he was a loser), so most of the important places in town are named either Frederik or Christian. This island that I went to was one of the latter variety. Christiana was permitted by the Danish government as a social experiment in the 70's, but they are starting to regret their decision. It is technically not even part of the EU, and its citizens take full advantage of this. This, my friends, is Hippyville. This is Java River as a dictatorship. At first, you aren't sure if you should even be there, because by most criteria it is a ghetto, but with one important difference: it's rainbow-hued. Yes, the stone buildings are crumbling and the streets are mostly dirt, but the finest sculptors, painters and graffiti artists from Hippy U have transformed this slum into something incredible. No hard surface has been left untouched by fountains of color and profound statements (F--- the police! Beauty will save the world!). The whole town is communally owned, and every person has a direct say in their . You wander along back alleys, side streets, and people's back yards to discover this incredible city. As you walk, you find Swiss family Robinson-style tree houses peeping through the trees, fairy-tale plaster cottages with rose gardens, rotting sailboats moored in the bushes and filled with flowers, small stores selling wood-burning stoves, a carefully maintained Hindu temple, and a free photo exhibition of Tibet. And then there's Pusher Street, where the street vendors hawk marijuana and pipes in broad daylight. I passed, and found a lovely shack that sold the best vegetable stew I've ever had. Delish. I almost picked up from the clothes store the undershirt that I forgot to bring, but someone waited a little to long before leaving the shirt. I suffer with what I have.

Throughly pleased by this promising cultural development, I left and visited the Royal Art Museum. Nice paintings, but grotesque sculptures. I'm serious. Weird.

There was big jazz festival going on, so I had a great time rubbing shoulders with the locals in the many gorgeous parks, enjoying a wide variety of live jazz music. There was an amazing singer in the rose garden, who could sing scat like nobody I've ever heard.

I walked home during the rush hour. Bike rush hour. With bike traffic jams. There are so many cyclists on the roads, they've been given their own miniature street, complete with traffic signals. Everybody bikes -- women in suits and high-heel shoes down to young punks in skater duds! Every town square is packed with mountains of parked bikes, and every street is lined with a few. Apparently, it's usually faster to bike than to deal with the Danish transportion system.

Europe is incredible. It's easy to forget, until you come here. The towns are gorgeous (even the supposed unremarkable sections), the people are hip, the food is great, the streets are cobblestone, and the language is delightfully foreign. I'm staying. Just pay my bills.

End of day one.



Blogger amhathaway said...

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July 12, 2007 11:08 AM  

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